Getting off my clotheshorse

Sarah James

I have a serious problem; an addiction worse than any chemical. I am a clotheshorse, and it is time for me to come out of the closet.

I displayed all the classic signs of an addict. The perpetual staple holes left over from tags bellow the collar, the crayon etchings on the soles of my shoes.

It started out innocently enough – a quick stop into the Salvation Army on my way home from work or a quick jaunt through Goodwill to take the edge off. Soon, I was hitting every half-price Monday in the Cleveland area, and the outcome wasn’t pretty.

My friends noticed the bags accumulating in the back seat of my car and began to worry for my sanity and savings.

“Sarah, where are you planning on wearing this neon yellow jumpsuit?” they’d tease. “Unless you’re moonlighting as a cocktail waitress on a space station, I don’t see a situation where this would be appropriate.”

I quickly learned to store my purchases in the trunk, away from the prying eyes of my judgmental friends. I began sneaking the bags one at a time into my house after my family had gone to sleep.

When I’d clean my room, I’d find unopened bags containing the secondhand clothes I’d once fallen in love with. What had possessed me to buy an extra-large floral muu-muu?

I knew that I was accumulating more clothing than one person could ever hope to wear, but I continued to thrift shop anyway.

What if some hip grandmother donated her entire life’s collection of sequined tops and bedazzled shoes and I missed out? What if some girl outgrew all of her skinny jeans in my size? There were some things in life that I could not afford to risk. I was simply satisfying my natural instinct to hunt and gather. I was convinced that the next great deal was one aisle over.

I tried rationalizing my purchases. “Hey, It’s not like I’m spending $50 for a plain blue shirt with a Hollister logo splashed across the front. I’m spending $5 on a plain blue sweater with a cat emblazoned onto the sleeve,” I’d tell myself.

Flash forward to fall, when I could barely fit my wardrobe into my 11-by-17 foot dorm room. Clothes oozed from every shelf, drawer and crevice. I took to storing my collection of second grade teacher vests in a desk drawer to save precious closet space.

Despite my evident storage issues, I continued to frequent the thrift store circuit. I began charging the purchases to my credit card and stopped using cash all together.

When I opened my credit card bill later that month, my eyes nearly fell out of my head. I’d spent more than $100 at the Village Discount Outlet alone, and even more at Goodwill.

I decided to curb my thrift store spending, and began to weed through the wardrobe wreckage for items to donate. I told my friends not to tempt me with their coupons and took a new route home from work.

I had fooled myself into thinking that I wasn’t doing much damage because each pair of pleather pants costs less than a single sleeve from a department store chain. But it all adds up.

Although I have cut back severely on my thrift shop spending, I haven’t quit the circuit completely. I only shop on discount days, and I limit myself to one visit a month. The thrill is still there. I am still on the lookout for the perfect pair of overalls, and I yearn for a pair of yellow pumps to match the jumpsuit.

Some might think I’m crazy, but on the off chance I am invited to a soirée at a zoo – I have the perfect sequined vest.

Sarah James is a sophomore public relations major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].